India is an agriculturally important country. Around 58 % of India's population dependent on the agriculture for their livelihood. About 51 % of the total area of India is used for agriculture, whereas only 5 % area of Canada, 11 % of China, 13 % of Japan and 20 % of the USA is used for agriculture. Cultivation of crops (farming) including horticulture, rearing of animals, forestry and fishing are collectively called agriculture.The factors of physical environment determine the cropping pattern and the livestock farming in a region. As such, relief, soil and climate are the three main influences on agriculture.
Agricultural operations in India begin with the arrival of the monsoon rains in June. There are three crops season: kharif, rabi and zaid.
• The kharif season starts with the onset of the monsoon. Crop such as rice, maize, jowar, cotton, sugarcane, groundnut and urad are shown during this cropping season. They are harvested in autumn.
• The rabi season begins in autumn. Important crops grown in this season are wheat, barley, jowar, gram, mustard and linseed.
• The zaid is the summer crop season. Rice, maize, vegetables, sunflower and groundnut are grown during this season.
Crops may be broadly divided into two groups – food grains and non-food grains.
Food grains include cereals such as rice, wheat, maize, jowar and bajra, and pulses like tur, masur, urad and gram. Non-food grains may further subdivided into oilseeds such as groundnut, mustard, rapeseed and sunflower; fibres such as cotton and jute; plantation crops such as tea, coffee and rubber and others including sugarcane, potato, etc.
Rice is a mainly a Kharif crop. It is the most important crop in India both in terms of total cropped area and total production. It requires uniformly high temperature and plenty of water throughout its growth areas having more than 100cm of rainfall. Clayey soil, which retains water for a longer time, is suitable for rice cultivation. Standing water in the field is required during its period in of growth. W.B., U.P., A.P., Bihar, Punjab, M.P., Tamil Nadu, and Kerala are the major rice producers. Punjab is one of the leading producers of rice in the country. Wheat is a rabi crop.it requires well retained soil, moderate temperature and 50cm of rainfall. Millets (ragi, jowar and bajra), maize and barley are collectively called coarse grains. Maharashtra, Karnataka, M.P., Rajasthan, Gujarat and some parts of U.P. are the major producers of coarse grains. Gram, arhar or tur, lentil, black gram, moong and peas are the important varieties of protein foods. These crops are grown almost all over India except the areas with heavy rainfall. Pulses are leguminous plants, which help to restore fertility of the soil in which they are grown.
• Oilseeds - It includes groundnut, rapeseed, mustard, sesame seeds, linseed, castor seed, niger seed, sunflower and soybean. Traditionally rapeseed and mustard are used as cooking medium in eastern and northern India, groundnut in western India and coconut in southern India.
• Fibres: cotton and jute are the two important crops which provide fibres’. Cotton grows well in the black lava soil of the Deccan plateau. It requires high temperature and sufficient rainfall during the growing period. But at the time of ripening bright sunshine is required.
• Jute plants needs high temperature, plenty of water and rich soil that needs to the continually renewed. Jute is grown found mainly in the Ganga belt in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Bihar and eastern U.P. also grows jute.
• Plantation crops: Tea and coffee are two popular beverages grown in India. Tea grows well in deep fertile and well drained soils. Warm and moist climate with a rainfall of over 200cm well distributed throughout the year. Tea is grown in Brahmaputra and Surma valleys in Assam, slopes of the Himalayas in West Bengal, Kangra and Kumaon in the north and also on the slopes of the Nilgiris in the south. India is one of the leading exporters of tea in the world. Coffee is grown in well-drained soil and requires warm climate and moderate rainfall. It grows in the tropical highlands. Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are its major producers. Nearly 3/4th of the production is exported.
• Natural rubber is obtained from the latex of the rubber tree. This plant grows well in areas of high temperature and high rainfall, well distributed throughout the year. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the major rubber producing states.
• India is believed to be the homeland of sugarcane. It requires high temperature, plenty of water and well-drained fertile soil. Its major producers are U.P., Punjab, Karnataka, Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and A.P. the production per hectare is high in the southern states.
Fruits, vegetables, tuber crops such as potatoes, flowers, medicinal plants, spices, etc. are covered under horticulture. They are grown in the diverse climatic condition of India. India has achieved first position in the production of Cashew nuts and second position in the production of fruits, vegetables and coconut. Among fruits, apples, peaches, plums, almonds, apricots, and the cherries are grown in the temperate climate of Jammu and Kashmir and H.P. tropical fruits such as bananas, Litchis, mangoes, pineapples, oranges and papayas are grown in Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, A.P. and Tamil Nadu.
India is primarily an agricultural country. About 64% of the labour force is employed in agriculture for its livelihood. Agriculture contributes about 1/3rd of the GDP. GDP refers to the total value of goods and services produced by a country over a period of time, normally a year. Agriculture shares about 18% of the total value of the country’s exports.
Because of favourable land and climate, India has about 44% of its land under cultivation.
With the help of irrigation, improved seeds, use of fertilizers, manures and pesticides, and by adopting scientific methods of farming, production of crops has increased substantially. This is known as green revolution.
• Animal Husbandry: Programs like rearing of cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry are of great importance in India. It is a subsidiary occupation for a large number of people, who live in drought prone, hilly and tribal areas. Dairy development has brought a white revolution in the country. India is the largest producer of milk in the world.
• Fisheries: India has a long coastline. Herring, sardines, tuna, salmon and mackerel are some of the common varieties of fish. Inland fishery, fish caught in fresh water-lakes, tanks, reservoirs and rivers is also very important in India. Prawn, shellfish and finfish having commercial importance are being promoted. Slightly less than half come from fresh water and rest is contributed by marine fishery. About 10% of the marine products are exported.